Page images

to it from himself, to treat him with mildness and with patience. It seems also to me to be a conseqiience of the conviction of truth, that one should dispute of it with calınness as well as firmness, The apostle speaks of “ in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy.

The proofs of the truth of Christianity are so various, that I scarcely know which I shall first adduce. The nature of a preface will not allow me to dwell upon many of them. I shall confine myself, therefore, to some of the most important and satisfactory. It cannot be expected that there will be much novelty in arguments upon this subject. It may be useful, however, to engage the attention to such arguments, though they may have been urged before. I conceive the arguments advanced in this work, in favour of Christianity, to be unanswerable. In saying this, however, I would not wish to be understood as boasting of any ability that may bave been shewn in the compilation of these arguments. I mean to speak of the goodness and truth of the cause which I have espoused. I trust that the arguments will bring conviction to the breast of every candid unbeliever who will attend to them,

I conceive it to be vain that the infidel rages against Christianity; for let him do whatever he can against it, let him heat the fiery furnace of inquisition seven times hotter than it has ever been yet beated against the gospel, we shall find, that at the last it will come out from ihence, like the opposers of Nebuchadnezzar's idolatry, pure and uninjured, uncontaminated, and impenetrable.

I shall begin with observations upon some of the prophecies, of which we now see the accomplishment, or which can be proved by indisputable evir dence to have been accomplished. The dispersion of the Jews was more than three thousand years ago foretold by Moses (and afterwards by other prophets, and lastly by Christ bimself), in as circumstantial a manner as any one could describe it, after having seen the event. Muses foretold the siege of Jerusalem, and the subversion of the Jewish government by the Romans.

He says (addressing himself to the Jews), “ The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young. And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed : which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land : and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, throughout all thy land which the Lord thy God hath given thee. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters (which the Lord thy God hath given thee), in the siege, and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee *.” And again

“ And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude, because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God. And, it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought: and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other, and there shalt thou serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among those nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy feet have rest, but the Lord shall give thee

* Deuteronony, xxviii. 59--53.

he says,

a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind *.” And Jeremiah says, “ And of your brethren that are not gone forth into captivity, thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence : and I will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and a bissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them t.” And our Saviour says, “ And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled I."

The condition of the Jews at this day is a living evidence for the truth of the sacred writings. It is known by every one, that they are now “ scattered among all people, from one end of the earth to the other.” Iç is beyond a doubt, that many of them, incited by the terrors of the Inquisition, have joined the idolatries of the Roman Catholics, “ that they have served other gods, which neither they nor their fathers have known, even wood and stone.”

Who is ignorant that the Jews are now " a curse, and an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach,” in every part of the globe, and that “ Jerusalem is trodden down of the Gentiles?” To every one who is versed in history, it is also certain that the Romans “ besieged Jerusalemn in all ber gates," and that all the particulars that Moses foretold in regard to the siege actually happened. Moses says, that the curses upon the Jewish nation should be “ for a sign and for a wonder for ever ll.” It is not possible, with the least appearance of reason, to ascribe the prophecy

• Deuteronomy, xxviii. 62, &c.
Jeremiah, xxix, 16, 17, & 18.

Luke, xxi. 24.
| Deuteronomy, xxviii. 46.

of the dispersion of the Jews, or any of these prophetic descriptions, to chance. Such an extraordic nary, such a singular event, as the dispersion of a nation without their extinction, had never happened before the prophecy that the Jews would be dispersed, and yet not be extinguished. Nor had Moses and the other prophets in the writings of whom we find various particulars in regard to the present dispersion of the Jews, described in as lively and just a manner as any one could at this day describe them, after having considered the living particulars themselves), nor bad they any reason to suppose, either from experience or from the contemplation of human affairs, that such an event would ever happen. They could only have uttered these. prophecies through the particular inspiration of Him who foresees all events. If these prophecies, therefore, have been uttered through the inspiration of God, it is the part of reason to believe that those who uttered them came from God, that their writings are-holy; and, in short, it will -naturally follow from hence that Christianity is a true and certain revelation.

I will now make some observations upon the famous prophecy of Daniel, in regard to the Messiah. "Seventy weeks, are determined upon thy people; and upou thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteous, ness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the Mesa siah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and thqwall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a food, and unto

the end of the war, desolacions are determined: (And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week be shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to ceaso, and for the overspreading of abominations be shall make it desolate) even until the consummation, and that determined, shall be poured upon the der solate*."

Before I proceed to the investigation of the particular parts of this prophecy, it is necessary, I think, to obviate the objections which may be made by unbelievers in all revelation (to whom I chiefly address myself) in regard to the fairness and propriety of interpreting the seventy weeks as four bundred and ninety years. A week, in the language of the prophets, sometimes means seven years, and a day is often used by them for year. This will appear, not by any forced or unnatural construction of their language, but from their own express declarations, It is said in Genesis, “ Fulll her week, and we will give thee this also, for the service which thou shal serve with me yet seven other years t.". And in Ezekiel, “ And thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I bave appointed thee each day for a year t." "If a day, therefore, in the prophetic language means a year, and a week is understood to be seven years, seventy weeks will signify four hundred and ninety years. With this point settled, I will begin my comments upon the prophecy. The prophet says, “ Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity;" that is, in four bundred and ninety years a spiritual deliverer shall come to “ thy holy city," to Jerusalein, "to bring in everlasting righteousness;" that is, who shall teach a gospel that shall prevail for ever; and to “ seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy," and in whose most sacred character • Daniel, ix, 24, 25, 26, & 27. Gen. xxix. 27. Exek. iv..

« PreviousContinue »